Devonian Botanic Garden wins national award for garden tourism
UAlberta's environmental education oasis named Botanical Garden of the Year by Canadian Garden Council.
By MICHAEL BROWN
(Edmonton) The University of Alberta’s Devonian Botanic Garden has been named Botanical Garden of the Year as part of the Canadian Garden Council’s Garden Tourism Awards.
About 70,000 people visit the 180-acre garden and its more than 7,000 varieties of plants and extensive natural areas annually. Primarily a research site, the garden is open May 1 through Thanksgiving to visitors from around the world, school groups, various celebrations or students on course.
“The University of Alberta Devonian Botanic Garden is a site for research, environmental education and inspiration, but we also recognize the importance of our role as a significant tourist attraction in the Edmonton region,” said Lee Foote, the garden’s director. "We strive to deliver a visitor experience that cultivates inspiration, awareness and appreciation in a setting of botanical beauty.”
Foote says the Devonian garden is the northernmost major botanic garden in Canada and despite the harsh Zone 3 climate, grows an amazing variety of plants.
“We are also a garden in a forest,” he said. “Our cultivated areas are surrounded by prairie parklands, wetlands and natural areas, in contrast to most botanic gardens, which are typically situated in more urban settings.
“This provides rich opportunities for education and research—and a few challenges, like porcupine, moose, deer and beaver threats to the 23 distinct gardens we have on site.”
Foote says the garden’s close proximity to the U of A—located just 25 minutes from the north campus—makes it the ideal host for projects from four faculties and several graduate projects. “Our linkage to the university extends to symposia, scientific meetings, class field trips, art exhibitions, faculty and administration meetings. And it’s a beautiful place to celebrate events in higher education.”
He adds, “With the addition of embedded cultural treasures such as the five-acre Kurimoto Japanese Garden, Native People's Garden and a forthcoming nine-acre garden that was a gift from His Highness the Aga Khan, the Devonian Botanical Garden is positioned to lead in studies of cultural interpretation and history as well.”